Monday, November 9, 2009

Happy Birthday, Mom

Today would’ve been my mom’s 70th birthday. I knew today may be touch and go for me emotionally. I met my dad and we enjoyed lunch at one of her favorite restaurants, per his suggestion. Then we went to the cemetery to pay our respects, honor her and wish her a happy birthday. And shortly, I will be attending my first grief support meeting; why? In part to know I’m not going crazy when I have these grief-filled burps of emotion, and to better understand the process and to connect with others who are also moving through it.

Do you remember the scene in movie The Princess Bride when Westley and Buttercup are moving through the Fire Swamp? During their journey, unexpected spurts of fire would burst up from the ground, out of nowhere. I’m finding that grief is like a journey through the fire swamp with unexpected hits of emotion that come quite suddenly and strongly. It is an edginess that lowers my patience, or increases my irritability and defensiveness over the silliest things. It's a power surge that drains my joy, and a geyser of emotion bubbling up and pouring forth as tears. These blindsides of grief leave me feeling off balance and out of sorts; just not myself.

In these four months following my mother’s passing, we are moving through birthdays (both my dad’s and mom’s), my parent’s anniversary, and two major holidays. These are the “big ones” I’ve heard others who have lost loved ones describe as the most challenging. Is it a blessing to go through these “big ones” so quickly and in such a short amount of time or a curse?

I choose to consider it a blessing – for me personally, it allows me to “lean into it.” “It” meaning the grief, while I have the time and space in which to adjust to the absence of my mom in my life, to heal and purge all the emotion I feel around it. Perhaps then I can move forward, cleansed and more light-hearted. I’m not naïve enough to believe that my grieving will be complete after the first four months but it is my hope that it will not nearly as intense as it has felt the last two months. Time will only tell.

I’ve been told that the first year after the loss of the loved one is the hardest. With each 3rd of the month that passes, I give thanks for one more month behind the loss, counting how many are left in that “first year.” However, I don’t think I’ll ever get over wanting to hold my mom’s hand, exchange mother-daughter hugs and kisses, pick up the phone to talk about our respective days, share confidences, and just gab for the sake of gabbing. And I guess in a way, I don’t want to get over wanting those things with my mom, for I wonder that if I do, am I shifting into having taken it all for granted? I don’t know the answer, and intuitively, I don’t think so. But I do know I feel her constantly around me; she’s visited a couple of times in my dreams, and converses with me often. So, I will adjust to just being with her in this different way, and know that whatever I need moving forward as a motherless child, I can find with the love and support of my friends and family who are mothers of their own children.


1 comment:

Mary Salfi said...

This is a wonderful post. I totally understand the emotions you're going through and love the analogy of the fire swamp. It really does feel like that hitting you out of nowhere. It does get better with time - just the fact that you can produce such an awesome post implies that you're already ahead of the game.
Take care of yourself and your family.
With Love,